creating the novel
Sertori pushed his
way into the Rialto Coffee House, drawing in with him the cool winters
air. Hit by the heat and a welcoming coffee aroma, he felt instantly
more relaxed and comfortable. He had about an hour before Claire would
be arriving, time enough to make some real progress with his novel.
The Rialto was probably his favourite writing haunt, being
convivial yet not too noisy for him to think or write.
Pulling off scarf then gloves, he ordered a latte, found a table near
the window and ensconced himself on a seat commanding a view down the
café. Behind him, the December afternoon had not much more time
left to run. A light blue sky framed Sertori with a pale background.
Setting out his laptop, he opened the text entitled Chill Factor.
He needed to work on Chapter Five and had been thinking all day about
the confrontation between Gardner, his hero, and the unpleasant but
none-too-bright thug, Sanderson. Thin grey clouds scudded insubstantially
from left to right, across the large, shop window, as he began punching
out his prose.
Dominic Sertori looked and acted like a writer and that had been one
of the main reasons for Claire being attracted to him at the literary
festival. He always wore his glasses when working at his laptop and
was a study in concentration, with his wavy brown and now slightly greying
hair sitting atop and around a furrowed brow. He was busy. At his back,
some of the grey, wispy clouds carried a hint of brown where they caught
the setting sun. People continued to come and go. He thought about Claire.
She would only just be finishing work and she had some distance to travel
to reach him. He sipped his coffee and typed on. In the lower part of
the sky, a bulky, tubular stretch of nimbus moved slowly along, the
pinkish beige central band sandwiched by slate grey. Occasional small,
bluegrey cloudlets flitted past like tugboats dragging their slow-moving
mother ship to port.
Having cornered him in an electrical store, Henderson had just attempted
to headbut Gardner but Dom had allowed the hero to skilfully evade his
crude lunge. The latte was almost gone, he would order another soon.
His attention was called away as the level of chatter in the shop momentarily
lifted. A departing couple hed seen before were calling arrangements
to a friend seated near Sertori. The café writer looked up briefly
before resuming. Far from distracted, he actually welcomed such happenings
since it was why he came to the café. The writing process was
too lonely at home.
Outside a couple of dozen circling gulls paid no heed to a charcoal
grey sea horse which floated by.
The espresso machine gave regular reminders of its presence, hisses,
gurgles and sighs alternating to provide cup after cup of frothy coffee.
Most of the fun lies in ordering a drink and then watching its creation.
After that, the first taste is the best, as long as you dont burn
your mouth. Sertori stopped to read over what he had written. Henderson
had really grown from a two-dimensional heavy into someone with genuine
menace. It was important not to let him grow too interesting since he
was about to be dispatched over the counter by Gardner. And whatever
Gardner did, whatever threats he faced, he never lost his cool. He was
the main man. An assistant in her smart maroon and black livery cleared
Sertoris coffee cup and took his request for one more, please.
Past her, a grey and seemingly endless tubular shape spanning the entire
lower half of the sky was transforming into a pinkish cream and showing
signs on its western edge of finally streamlining and diminishing.
Chill Factor had been alive and growing for over two months,
now. He was genuinely toying with Claires jokey suggestion to
add a capital Y at the end of the title. He always liked to have the
real title in place early, as a focus. Would a punning title alter that
focus? He looked up, briefly, and took in the whole room with its warm
colours, big plants and animated groups engaged in coffee talk. There
were some individuals too, one man was reading a newspaper, a middle
aged woman seemed to be checking something, perhaps a shopping list
and a rather punky girl was nattering away on her mobile. Henderson
was in mid-air and it was only fair of Sertori to put him out of his
uncertainty. He returned to his text as the assistant labelled Sandra
delivered a second latte.
Minutes went by as he busily wrote and the sky changed. Two thirds of
it had grown pale grey, invading from top left and fanning out. He drank
his coffee and looked towards the shop counter, working out the mechanics
of the heros throw and the villains flight and painful landing.
He became more aware of both the background talk and subtle lightings
contribution to the ambience. He thought again of Claire. The bookshop
would have been locked, her drive nearly completed. He pictured her,
hunting a parking space, as city traffic pressed by.
At his back, there had been a gradual clearing of cloud as the blue
itself faded, its colour draining towards a whitish grey save for just
a hint of a warmer, yellowish tint at bottom left. The occasional bird
drifted gently, making a final foray before night. Sertoris novel
was in shape and would earn him good money, better even than the previous
three. He loved Claire and was sure, or at least fairly sure she had
forgotten Jimmy Anderson now. Smiling to himself, he wondered if Henderson
was too near a name match to his inspirers. He thought not, since
he had only taken parts of Anderson into his character.
The door was pushed open and in she walked. Presenting a smile of greeting
mixed with relief, she kissed him on the top of his head and sat down
opposite. He admired the vitality she seemed to possess in abundance.
Her long, light brown hair was more wavy than his, falling in curls
and he liked to watch it move when she became particularly animated,
as she was just then. "Youll never guess what, darling!"
"Tell on, tell all," he replied, amused.
"Ive got a display at the Ilton Festival and my stand is
just as you go in, in between Macmillans and Heinemanns.
"Thats great, honey! Hey, well done!"
He was genuinely pleased for Claire. He knew the Festival would be a
great promotional opportunity for the bookshop, and a stall in such
a good position! Unlike at the far end where she was stuck last year.
Shed been lucky this time.
"Hows the novel? Did you get much done?"
"Yeh, Ive cracked on. Id just sorted out that fight
in Chapter Five when you walked in," Dom said. "Do you fancy
"Mmm, yes. Ill get it. Latte for you?"
He agreed, "Okay, but I just need to nip to the loo."
All the while, across the entire sky, grey had been ceding ground to
an ever darkening blue. As he returned from his visit to the finely
appointed toilets, he saw Claire had already returned to her seat. He
noticed the view through the window. It showed a deep, rich blue closing
to black, this darkness being augmented by a late infusion of cloud
falling from above left. Didnt Anderson work for Macmillan, he
thought to himself as he made his way towards her.
© Graeme Garvey Feb 2003
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